15 Oct


Most of the gyms in Quito are primarily for weight lifting. They have a mix of free weights and Nautilus, or whatever those damn machines are called, and I don’t know what it is – perhaps the overabundance of mirrors, or the poor lighting, or the wall-to-wall rubber flooring, or the late 80s look of the equipment – but these gyms seem lifted straight out of New Jersey. It really wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple of Lenny and Squiggy look-alikes come walking out of one of these places.

This past week, Eileen and I were searching for an acceptable gym. After peaking through the doors of a few of them, we caught on to the fact that aerobic workout machines are hard to come by. I checked out the Hilton Colon earlier this week to see what sort of facilities a fancy-schmancy hotel would have. They’re definitely better (membership includes unlimited access to hot tub, Turkish baths, and other such extravagances), but they’re also pretty spendy, as they say. I had pretty much ruled out high-class establishments until someone recommended we look at the Hotel Quito, a high society place with one of the best views in Quito. There’s an L-shaped pool out back and a huge chess board with toddler-sized pieces. The gym is small, but pretty classy, and membership is only about $35 per month. Not bad. But they didn’t have any good stationary bikes; and of course, there were no elliptical machines and no rowing machine (the holy grail of this whole quest). But it gave us hope that other such spendy sites might have affordable gyms.

So I ventured to the Plaza de las Americas, whose high speed wireless internet and Cinnabon restaurant are indications of its upper crust clientele. Excellent gym; cheapest membership option: $165 for three months. Oh, and no rowing machine.

We had one more overpriced institution to check out: the Swisshotel, a conveniently located place with a wonderful bakery we had just discovered – they have 30-cent chocolate croissants that are one of the best pastries we’ve had yet in Quito (not a tough competition to win, but these things are seriously good). Anyhow, we looked at the Swisshotel’s facilities today. They’re stunning. Membership includes weightroom, aerobic equipment, Jacuzzi, Turkish baths, sauna, pool, massage waterfalls, relaxation rooms, racquetball courts, and probably some other things I’m forgetting. But of course, the price is over $100 a month. Ouch! The worst part: they have a rowing machine!